The Frisky SparrowBy
We’re lucky every April in Provence to see three species of Old World sparrows. We visit the Pont du Gard for our reliable Rock Sparrows, and House Sparrows — familiar but still irresistible — are common nearly everywhere we go. And the best of the trio, the charming Eurasian Tree Sparrow, flits and chitters around farmyards and up and down hedgerows as we wander the quiet backroads of southern France.
The official French name of this species is moineau friquet, the “vivacious sparrow.” Crespon, writing in nearby Nîmes in 1840, says that
when perched in a tree or a bush, it is constantly twisting and flitting, twitching and lowering its tail.
In the Gard, he reports, the bird is lou saouzin, the “willow sparrow,”
because one most often encounters it in willows near water or in the adjacent fields.
Whatever you call Passer montanus, it’s a good day when you can sit back under the skies of Provence and watch a busy little flock picking its way friskily along.